Tech Solutions: Tips for Performance Engine Builders

Dec 2, 2009

Tech Solutions is a section that runs in select issues of Hotrod & Restoration, providing an opportunity for our readers who are professional performance engine builders to share their expertise with other builders.

How to Easily Clean Cylinder Bores

I’ve always looked for more efficient ways to clean cylinder bores on my builds. There is no such thing as “too clean.” Recently I’ve looked at a foam ball that’s designed for polishing custom wheels and found that when loaded up with liquid detergent it works quite well. These are also available in a cloth material. George Huff GH Engine Works Glendale, Arizona

Avoid Lint with a Painter’s Tack Cloth

In building very high-compression, high-performance drag racing engines, probably the most important mating surfaces that involve a gasket are the cylinder head-to-block deck areas. After machine work and short-block assembly, I want these surfaces perfectly clean. The use of non-residue chemicals like brake parts cleaner is fine, but red rags and blue shop towels often leave a lot of lint. It’s not harmful, but I don’t like it. The solution is an automobile painter’s tack cloth. Used lightly, this will leave nothing on an oil-free surface. Jim Ferguson Wildhorse Racing Conifer, Colorado

Star Drills are Cheap and Easy Solution

A neat and easy way to stake press-in oil galley plugs is to use a star drill. These are chisels normally used for making holes in concrete. They feature four points on the end that are spaced evenly apart and are angled just right for staking oil galley plugs. It will stake the edges of the plug four times with just one strike of the hammer and looks much more professional than creating several random stakes with a traditional chisel. These star drills are available at most hardware or home improvement stores and one size should fit almost all plugs. They are not very expensive and will probably last a lifetime. Dan Matton D and D Auto Machine Bloomington, Minnesota

Easily Remove Mopar Gear Drive Bushings

The big block (383-400-440) Mopar distributor gear drive bushing needs to be replaced during any major rebuild. It’s very hard to drive this out through the oil pump drive shaft tunnel. I found it is easy to tap the bushing with a ¼ x 18 NPT tap, and insert a ¼ x 18 NPT pipe plug. The bushing can then be driven out from the oil pump drive shaft tunnel with a ¼-in. metal rod. If the bushing breaks in half, just re-tap the remaining part of the bushing and repeat the process. The bushing can be easily removed using this method.  Barry Kremling Performance Tune-Up & Auto Parts Gonzales, Texas

Main Cap Catch-Up Trick

Occasionally, when finish-line honing billet main caps after installation and boring, you may get one or two that hone a little slower than the rest. This is common with billet inner and stock outer caps. To get them to catch up, simply back off the stone pressure and slide a 4-in. section of backed or “hook-it” type 220-grit sandpaper over the stone section on the mandrel. Next, step the cutting pressure back up and hone the cap for a few strokes. This will remove 0.0005-in. real quick and straight, without removing any material from the remaining caps. Finally, remove the paper, re-adjust the stone pressure and final hone the remainder of the material from all of the caps to finish. This is a lot easier and more accurate than un-torquing the caps and running the mandrel out of the block to try to balance the metal removal evenly from main to main. Ron Flood Cedar Machine Service North Branch, Minnesota